on 7 February 2000
Mark Gatiss. You may know the name from somewhere, but you'd be hard-pressed to recognise the face.
As many Who fans will already know, Gatiss already has a cult following in the UK as one quarter of The League of Gentlemen, the BBC's bizarre comedy series.
However, the New Adventures series allows Mark to explore his real passion - Dr Who.
The Roundheads is certainly an entertaining read, with Polly and Ben getting to prove they're not really just the cheeky London characters we all came to know and love in the TV series.
What's also pleasing to note is that the author manages to capture not only the period well, but also Patrick Troughton's 'cosmic hobo' character.
A big thumbs up then, but keep both careers going Mark - as good as your Who novels are, we simply can't live without your pals in Royston Vasey just yet...
This is an original Doctor Who novel, which was first published in 1997. In 2015, eight original Doctor Who novels have been released as the ‘History Collection’, a series of novels featuring different Doctors and their companions in historical storylines.
This story features the Second Doctor, as played by Patrick Troughton. In this story, he is travelling with Polly, Ben and Jamie, so the story is set somewhere between the tv stories ‘The Highlanders’ when Jamie joins the Tardis crew, and ‘The Faceless Ones’ when Ben and Polly leave.
The Tardis has landed, and the Doctor and his friends have stepped out into what Ben realises is London, but it takes them a while longer to work out when they have arrived. In fact it is 1648, and London is a dangerous place for strangers. Cromwell’s forces have defeated the King’s armies, and King Charles I is held prisoner. But Cromwell has more planned yet. As if that wasn’t enough, before long the Doctor and Jamie get taken prisoner, Ben finds himself all at sea, and Polly gets mixed up with desperate Cavaliers and fiendish plots.
This is a wonderful historical Doctor Who novel. The author has very skilfully blended history with the Doctor and his friends, and given the reader a totally satisfactory result. I loved that historical figures were so perfectly portrayed – Cromwell, King Charles, Cromwell’s spymaster Thurloe, Richard Cromwell. We even get to see Colonel Pride and Lord Grey of Groby, and ‘Pride’s Purge’ of the Parliament. The fictional characters, including the odoriferous Nate Scrope, and William Kemp and his family, are very realistically drawn and inserted into the historical background. There is a lot of emotion in this book, and the prologue, read again after reading the story through, really makes you realise the ultimate pathos of travelling with the Doctor. A terrific read, and a really great novel from Mark Gatiss.
on 6 January 2013
Classic Doctor Who (First and Second Doctor's mainly) didn't just used to be about alien planets and invasions of Earth. The Doctor and his companions would find themselves back in Earth's history, exploring key events. The Roundheads is one of those historical novels, starring the 2nd Doctor, Ben, Polly and Jamie and set in the back drop of the English Civil War. I'll be honest and say that most historical Doctor Who episdoes bore me, I just don't find them interesting, and given they are few and far between once Jon Pertwee took on the role, I can't see that I am the only one. Sadly The Roundheads did very little to change my view. The first 100 odd pages were a struggle to say the least, but once Mark Gatiss got the plot in place it wasn't a bad story.
My issues didn't end there though, a lot of the characters actions just didn't make sense. The Doctor and Jamie are imprisoned as spies, yet they get let out on a whim. Richard Cromwell finds a book which tells the future, yet does nothing with it. Sal Winter trusts Ben totally after one boozy night in Amsterdam. I could go on. The Roundheads also suffers from some lazy writing techniques and plot devices. Why does the Doctor need a book about the English Civil Wars? He hasn't before and he hasn't since. You may be able to overlook it if the book had a purpose but that story line just fizzled out. Nearly all the characters are stereotypical, there are two which aren't but the rest you never feel anything for.
The Roundheads isn't a bad book by any means, once you get through the beginning the rest is actually a fairly interesting story. it also does stick pretty closely to the historical stories of it's era so if you like that sort of thing then it would be your kind of book. Sadly I didn't find much to get excited about.